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July 27, 2012

FBI to probe Anaheim killing by police

Four days of mayhem have been plaguing Anaheim, due to a fatal officer-involved shooting. (UPI/Lori Shepler)

ANAHEIM, Calif. (UPI) -- The FBI has agreed to review a fatal officer-involved shooting that sparked four days of unrest and violence in Anaheim, Calif., the city's mayor said.

The FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office both agreed to review Saturday's killing of Manuel Diaz, 25, which is already being probed by the local District Attorney's Office, Mayor Tom Tait told a news conference. The state attorney general will conduct a separate review, he said.

The family of Diaz, the first of the two men killed by Anaheim police over the weekend, filed a lawsuit Tuesday, alleging Diaz was unarmed when he was shot, fell to his knees and was shot again in the back of the head.

Anaheim Police Association President Kerry Condon has said Diaz appeared to be carrying a "concealed object in his front waistband with both hands," which he suddenly removed as he turned to officers.

The second killing -- of Joel Mathew Acevedo, 21, shot after officers tried to stop his car Sunday -- is also being investigated by the county district attorney, officials said. Police said Acevedo tried to flee on foot and then opened fire on them.

They said both Acevedo and Diaz were gang members with criminal records.

"The first step is to get to the truth," Tait said. "That takes some time and patience, and that's what I'm asking for."

Tait said he planned to meet Friday with officials of the FBI, which is the U.S. Justice Department's criminal investigative body, and the U.S. Attorney's Office, who are federal prosecutors.

He said he was disturbed by Tuesday night's protesters -- about two-thirds of whom city officials said were not from Anaheim -- who took "advantage of this evening of dialogue to try to create chaos in our downtown neighborhoods."

"Violence and vandalism have no place in the conversation," he said, and they will "simply not be tolerated."

At a later news conference, Genevieve Huizar, Diaz's mother, broke down as she said: "Please, please, please stop the violence. It's not going to bring my son back, and this is the worst thing any mother could go through."

Anaheim was peaceful Wednesday night.

During unrest Tuesday night -- the fourth night of unrest -- crowds of up to 1,000 people set trash fires, smashed windows of 20 downtown businesses and threw rocks, bricks and other objects at police in riot gear.

Police shot non-lethal beanbag rounds, or small fabric "pillows" fired as shotgun shells, and pepper balls at demonstrators, The Orange County (Calif.) Register and Los Angeles Times reported.

At least six people were injured and 24 were arrested, including four minors, police said.

Anaheim police were aided by officers from more than a half-dozen Orange County agencies. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department also helped out.

About 300 officers were dispatched.

There have been six shootings by Anaheim police officers so far this year, all but one fatal.

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